Contributed by: Don WinnerA new WWF study has found that between 2000 and 2010 the equivalent of 18,704 tons of live bluefin tuna were traded via Panama without being reported to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT).
The report claims that besides Panama, Mediterranean countries including Spain, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey were involved, as well as Japan.
WWF is calling on ICCAT and the concerned countries to urgently investigate further. All involved countries mentioned in the study were ICCAT Contracting Parties at the time the unreported trade operations were detected. According to ICCAT rules in force during all the study period, any international trade of Atlantic bluefin tuna had to be duly reported, to enable cross-checking with catch quotas.
“This is the first ever study on this issue and it probably shows only the tip of the iceberg. We finally managed to get the proof of a situation that has been acknowledged for many years even by ICCAT itself”, said Sergi Tudela, head of WWF Mediterranean Fisheries Program.
Based on official trade and customs databases, it has been revealed that over a decade as much as 14,327 tons of processed Atlantic bluefin was traded via Panama. This volume of trade corresponds to an estimated weight of 18,704 tons of live fish.
Bluefin tuna has been exported to Panama from Mediterranean countries including Spain, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey and Panama, in turn, re-exported to Japan as much as 13,730 tons of processed bluefin.
“According to available records, not a single shipment identified by the report was ever reported to ICCAT,” added Tudela. “If confirmed, it would fully qualify as illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing according to the United Nations’ FAO standards and would equal environmental crime." (worldfishing.net)
Editor's Comment: Panama does not adequately protect its marine resources.